Cancel Culture  Ft. Shane Dawson

By Maya Arruda. Email: marruda7@umassd.edu

Shane Dawson: a major YouTuber with over 20 million subscribers at his peak, minor filmmaker of such cinematic greats as the movie “Not Cool” that won audience vote in Starz’ show “The Chair,” and self-acclaimed empath. He was a YouTube staple with his popular true crime videos and his more recent forays into documentaries. 

He is also well known for being a massive racist on social media with multiple cases of black face “comedy” skits, making pedophilic “jokes”, displaying inappropriate behavior towards children, displaying inappropriate behavior towards his pets, and just really bad videos; for reference, his movie “Not Cool” has a black homeless man eat his own feces as a “joke,” and in the behind the scenes footage, Dawson insisted this had to be in the movie to the dismay of literally everyone else. Shane Dawson’s misdeeds are better detailed and documented in this video for those bold enough to delve into this trash heap of a human being. 

Understandably, Dawson was canceled by internet outrage around mid 2020 over these numerous controversies and scandals. He posted an apology video on his channel on June 26, 2020 and vanished from YouTube. Unfortunately, just like Palpatine came back in episode 9, Shane Dawson made his unholy return to YouTube in October 2021 with a terrible “documentary” trilogy about him being haunted in his new Colorado house. A very apt summary of this docuseries, with commentary, can be found here for those who are masochistic enough to want details of this personified train wreck given too much screen time but lack the attention span to watch around four hours of a degenerate pretending to be haunted by ghosts and not the consequences of his sins. 

Shane Dawson was arguably someone who deserved to be canceled, if not outright arrested for his more egregious behavior towards children and animals. However, his absence was relatively short-lived, unfortunately. Being canceled did not seem to affect him much, financially and socially, either; he has enough capital to buy a house, and he’s married. 

Cancel culture is problematic, make no mistake. It plays into mob mentality and can cause serious long-term harm to victims of cancel culture, financially, socially, and mentally. This is especially the case when the victim in question is innocent of all allegations or if the allegations are blown out of proportion by a horde looking for a witch to burn. Even if a person doesn’t have a strong online presence like Shane Dawson, online humdrum, especially regarding serious allegations, has effects in the physical world that can result in loss of friends or possibly present or future employment. Cancel culture is the cursed cross-breed of the worst in humanity and the internet. It combines humanity’s collective repressed rage, willingness to believe the worst in each other, and love for a scapegoat with the internet’s echo chamber capabilities and anonymity. It is the people’s way of lashing out without having to face the real world consequences of confronting someone in person. It allows people to hide behind a screen, depersonalization for the modern age, so they do not have to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions, leading to people going way too far in some cases. 

 However, another thing that drives cancel culture is a desire for a self-perceived justice, a desire to not let this person get away with doing horrible things online. Which is understandable. Watch the news all day and you see the rich and famous get away with things that us ordinary folk cannot, like Trump walking off sexual misconduct charges or Bill Cosby getting freed from prison with his charges overturned. In the real world, we rely on the justice system for being the judge, jury, and executioner, but even a blind man can see that this system is far from perfect. By using the internet, we can take on the role of judge, jury, and executioner through Tweets and dislike campaigns. We can make our disapproval heard and make it count, which is not necessarily the case with the justice system. 

As can be seen with Shane Dawson, canceling someone isn’t as permanent as a prison sentence. Depending on the target’s sheer tenacity and shamelessness, they can recover as if nothing happened. As if there was no controversy to begin with. Shane Dawson’s newest videos, while they only have a fraction of the views as his old videos, still make millions of views. Even with the demonetization of his channels, he is still able to profit off of merch and other platforms such as Patreon through access to his audience. As stated earlier, being canceled hasn’t affected them all that much, and it’s debatable at best as to whether he’s actually changed for the better. Being canceled didn’t make him change anything but the superficial.

Cancel culture, with all its drama and mudslinging, can be used to force internet personalities to take some measure of accountability for their actions. Ultimately, it breeds only long term harm, with any good that may come from it being only temporary.

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